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Branded Ingredients: A Healthy Foundation For Outstanding Products


NIE examines the advantages meticulously developed branded ingredients offer to create superior finished products.

A Key Piece of An Impressive Line

Supplement innovator Life Extension has long seen the value in utilizing branded ingredients in its formulations. “Branded ingredients usually provide scientific validation and consistent quality. Both are standards our customers expect from the Life Extension brand,” said Adina Mayerhoff, MS, RD, product development manager with the Florida-based company. “Branded ingredients are often used to formulate innovative, unique products which can set us apart from our competitors.”

That insistence upon selecting branded ingredients comes from another aspect of the company’s focus—education—for which it is widely known. Its monthly magazine, Life Extension, provides informative, factbased and well-referenced articles detailing research in an easy-to-understand manner. For that reason, as Minnesota-based Nutra Bridge became the exclusive U.S. marketer for innoVactive Inc.’s InSea2®, Scott Steil, Nutra Bridge president, paid a call to Life Extension.

“We approached Life Extension as soon as we launched the product as they are one of the pioneers in the industry who value science-backed products that are best in class,” he said.

InSea2 addresses two core markets: maintaining healthy blood sugar and weight management. It is the only commercially available product that significantly blocks both alpha amylase and alpha glucosidase enzymes (meaning that is blocks the breakdown of both starch and table sugar), said Steil. “As a result, it offers more complete control of blood sugar levels versus more traditional starch and carb blockers. Given that it is almost impossible to avoid the consumption of starch and complex carbs in today’s diet, supplementing with InSea2 can reduce the quick spike in blood glucose and insulin associated with these compounds.”

InSea2 is backed by three human studies supporting its safety and efficacy. The company tests each lot making sure that it meets spec and will block the key enzymes that result in healthy blood sugar and insulin control post meal, Steil explained. “The scientific data is critical for setting realistic expectations by the end user and our core focus on driving innovation in the supplement arena. It offers manufacturers and marketers of finished products the opportunity to create products in demand from consumers looking for products that will produce the results they seek.”

The ingredient was first used a key piece of Life Extension’s Natural Glucose Absorption Control, lending not only to effective results, but opening up a new conversation with customers, according to Mayerhoff.

“InSea2 has a novel mechanism of action (enzyme inhibition) that is realistic—if you can’t get people to stop eating too much, then offer a product that may minimize the digestion of carbohydrates,” she said, noting that while numerous materials were considered, InSea2 was not only selected for its function, but the dose is relatively low compared to grams of fiber that also has health benefits.

By working together, Nutra Bridge and Life Extension were able to develop three new products for blood sugar control as well as weight management where InSea2 was the novel ingredient that brought benefits that other products could not offer.

“InSea2 opened up the enzyme inhibition conversation with our customers. The product offers another option for dieters and those struggling to keep blood glucose levels within normal range, who are tired of fad diets and other ineffective long term weight-loss strategies,” Mayerhoff explained, adding that InSea2 has a natural appeal due to the seaweed source. “This is a very successful ingredient in the Life Extension line of weight control and glucose control formulations, and customers are impressed with our sourcing of unique materials that are proven beneficial over generic ingredients.”

A Solid Base for Premium Products

When industry veteran Carl Germano, RD, CNS, CDN, founder of New York-based OmEssentials®, sought to create a line of supplements for the yoga lifestyle, he knew branded ingredients would be a part of his formulation process.

“We strive to use as many branded ingredients as possible. They are a very important part in the initial formulation process in the development of new products for OmEssentials,” he said. “In particular, I strive to use branded ingredients that have human data support to assure quality and efficacy in the product line.”

Illinois-based VDF FutureCeuticals, Inc. was a likeminded supplier for Germano’s efforts. For approximately 15 years, the company has been a leader in the development, manufacture and research of fruit, vegetable and grain-based nutritional ingredients. According to Brad Evers, the company’s director of marketing, “From the very beginning, FutureCeuticals has offered exceptional, proprietary products with the benefit of a value-added brand.”

Drawing on his more than 30 years of experience as a clinical nutritionist and product formulator, Germano set out to develop a line of nutritional supplements that merged a healthy yogic lifestyle and the science of nutrition. Seeking to provide a phytonutrient- dense fruit and vegetable extract powders base for the OmEssentials line, VDF’s VitaBerry® gained his attention. “VitaBerry represents an important ingredient that I have used in many of OmEssential’s formulations due to the standardization of active antioxidants, quality of ingredients and expertise behind the ingredient,” he said. “We looked extensively for a company that conducted trials, was active in promoting their brand and had true quality standards in place.”

Introduced in 2003, VitaBerry is a source of all natural, healthy fruit polyphenols from a proprietary combination of freeze-dried whole fruit powders and fruit extracts, according to Evers. Line extensions developed shortly thereafter including VitaVeggie®, a high ORAC vegetable blend, which Germano has also utilized as a companion to VitaBerry in his products.

“FutureCeuticals products are set apart by our unparalleled control of the supply chain, rigorous quality procedures and controls, and state of the art production and product development capabilities. VitaBerry is no exception,” said Evers. “VitaBerry is the result of an effort to create an impeccable product utilizing the finest fruit powders and concentrates, many of which are freeze-dried in-house in our Momence, IL facilities.”

Evers explained that the company takes pride in fulfilling its obligation to help safeguard the reputations of its clients. “We employ the best available methods to ensure that every ingredient and product meets the highest standards of efficacy, quality and safety. Our in-house capabilities are second to none: comprehensive identity testing, phytochemical testing and fingerprint analysis via FTIR HPLC, HPTLC and UV; heavy metals and micro testing; irradiation detection; nutritional analysis; and more,” he said, adding that FutureCeuticals is cGMP- and HAACP-compliant, audited annually by the British Retail Consortium, OU Kosher certified, and certified organic by QAI and the State of California.

Although well known for developing polyphenol-rich materials with high ORAC values, FutureCeuticals looked beyond ORAC antioxidant measurements as it developed a clinical case study program called TargeTest™ that ensures its customers will receive an antioxidant ingredient that was shown to be active in people. TargeTest research has shown that VitaBerry can modulate biomarkers and targets in the body. These results offer a powerful marketing advantage and are available upon request.

In addition to the traditional means of creating awareness (e.g. advertising), FutureCeuticals’ bioclinical research capabilities and programs offer the benefit of published clinical trials in support of its branded and patented materials. “We draw significant attention to our brands by our commitment to researching and supporting our products with well-conducted, peer-reviewed clinical trials,” said Evers.

And it has been a partnership that has made all the difference to Germano. “The OmEssentials line has been universally well received,” he said. “I saw the utilization of these branded ingredients adding to the efficacy of each product in the line. The inclusion of VitaBerry and VitaVeggie has contributed to the overall points of differentiation.”

Standing Out in a Crowded Market

For those with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, traveler’s diarrhea, infective diarrhea, lactose intolerance or inflammatory bowel conditions, New Jersey-based Sabinsa Corporation offers LactoSpore®, a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) probiotic product that can help in maintaining healthy flora in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

While probiotics are a common approach to addressing digestive distress, not all are created equally. LactoSpore is differentiated in it contains Bacillus coagulans, a spore-forming bacteria. “By forming spores, the B coagulans bacteria are able to survive the harsh manufacturing process and have longer shelf life. The non-spore forming bacteria, such as L acidophilus, has a short shelf life and require special packaging and storage conditions,” said Anurag Pande, PhD, Sabinsa’s vice president of scientific affairs. “B coagulans can survive the acidity of stomach and bile acids and digestive enzymes and germinate in the intestine. B coagulans produces the favored L(+) lactic acid and effectively prevents the growth of pathogens. B coagulans also produces the bacteriocins, which are inhibitory towards gram (+) and gram (-) bacteria and maintains healthy gut flora.”

The company established a biotechnology unit at Neelamangala, near Bangalore, India, dedicated solely to developing and manufacturing the B coagulans spore product. The team of scientists/microbiologists at this unit are responsible for the maintenance of purity and quality of the product, proper handling of the LactoSpore, standardization and quality testing, and packaging of the material, according to Pande.

The scientific substantiation for LactoSpore began with a clinical study with a duration of two to 20 days conducted in Japan where 567 subjects in independent health care institutions were given 50–750 million CFU/day.

The results: 85.9 percent of subjects showed improvement in maldigestion accompanied diarrhea cases, 87.9 percent of subjects showed improvement in infantile diarrhea, 65.4 percent of subjects showed improvement in constipation and 93.7 percent of subjects showed improvement in diarrhea due to acute or chronic gastroenteritis.

As a part of ongoing work on probiotic therapy, the scientists at Sabinsa came up with concept of using Lactospore in a synbiotic supplement— branded as LactoWise®—that contains both probiotic as well as prebiotic (Fenumannans).

“LactoWise is a blend of two ingredients: LactoSpore and FenuFibers (probiotic and a pre-biotic, respectively). This blend has been available for several years now, and used in the supplement industry quite well,” explained Shaheen Majeed, Sabinsa’s marketing director. “Recently, when we launched our Integrated Nutritional Composites (INC, bi-layer tablets) line, we decided to actually make a bi-layer tablet that incorporated each ingredient on each side. Our customers may decide to use as-is, or they can add their own unique ingredient(s) to any of the sides of the bi-layer tablet and make their own unique story. This bi-layer tablet is available right now and samples are available for customers to see. The U.S. is our best market, and the biggest potential we see thus far.”

Majeed noted that due to Sabinsa’s active participation in trade media, retailers in the health food channel, where most innovative and substantial dietary supplement products originate, are very aware of Sabinsa’s reputation and products. “[Retailers] communicate to consumers as to the quality, safety and efficacy of the products they sell containing our ingredients,” he said, adding that Sabinsa also conveys the value of its ingredients by providing science to its customers, which they often use in their sales and marketing programs.

It is this deliberate marketing that has garnered Sabinsa considerable interest from manufacturer partners.

“We are in talks with several companies,” said Majeed. “Most of them came to us after seeing the marketing behind LactoSpore, its ease of use, its stability in the marketplace among ‘like’ products currently using LactoSpore, and, ultimately, the demand for probiotics and how best to alternatively deliver them to customers.”

Assuring Promises Are Delivered

When Cardium Therapeutics, Inc. purchased its California neighbor To Go Brands® in October, the product line was appealing because both companies are cut from the same cloth: each utilizes branded ingredients due to the scientific evidence they have to back claim substantiation.

“We select ingredients that have been characterized scientifically, have safety data on file and use them in clinically studied amounts in our formulations. To Go Brands adheres to the same philosophy,” said Hanna Wagari, vice president of sales and marketing with Cardium, adding that it was one of the first companies to use the Svetol® Green Coffee Bean in its Trim Energy line more than three years ago. “Dr. Oz just recently featured it on his show, so consumers are getting more educated about branded ingredients and looking for it on the label.”

In its quest to round out its NEO Nutra-App® product line with a natural relaxation product that didn’t induce drowsiness, Wagari explained that Cardium sought an ingredient that was well characterized and had scientific backing. What it found was a branded ingredient from Taiyo International, Suntheanine®, a patented, naturally derived 100 percent pure form of L-theanine that was protected by more than 30 U.S. patents and internationally recognized patents for both manufacturing and use. The end result was Neo-Chill®.

“Suntheanine was appealing due to its composition, safety, patents and efficacy as well as extensive scientific research. Clinical studies on Suntheanine show that doses of between 50 mg and 200 mg naturally stimulate alpha waves—specific brain activity which is associated with a relaxed but alert mental state,” said Wagari, adding that Cardium uses 200 mg of Suntheanine in Neo-Chill to create a formulation that delivers on its promise. “It is well characterized and standardized, so our consumers can expect consistent performance. You can feel the difference after taking the product and that’s what our brand promise to consumers is all about.

“Consumers are looking for products that are backed by science and are willing to pay more for [them],” she added. “Taiyo continues to promote Suntheanine, so consumers routinely ask for Suntheanine by name or look for it on the label.”

Extra! Extra!

Visit www.niemagazine.com to read suppliers’ advice for manufacturers when vetting a branded ingredient over a generic.


■ Cardium Therapeutics, Inc., (858) 436-1000
■ Life Extension, (800) 544-4440
■ Nutra Bridge, (651) 245-8733
■ OmEssentials, (855) 848-1319
■ Sabinsa, (732) 777-1111
■ VDF FutureCeuticals, Inc., (888) 452-6853